The Dream and the Glory

 

The ground upon which I walk

Is alien to me and the century I lived in

Too young with a different mentality.

IÕve paced this ground as if there was a mist

From my waist down and I couldnÕt see my feet,

Nor where each step fell and what lied beneath.

IÕve continuously thought I was in a nightmare,

That eventually it would all come to an end

With a sudden waking to a fanfare of reality;

My eyes would behold verity as I imagined it to be.

Only half of my spirit and body are here

The rest of my being is beyond, aloof and alert,

In another time warp where innocence was bliss

And children still believed in fairy tales.

 

IÕve walked this earth thinking I could make a change

But I tripped over one delusion after another;

Human values and kindness wiped clear,

Love was all make belief, castles in the air;

Lovers came and went without any remorse

And I was left grieving out in the cold,

To contemplate where I had gone wrong;

Until I believed there was no heaven nor a God.

It was a time I realized Ōthe endÕ came all too often

And in real life no one lives happily ever after.

All I see reminds me of something that is gone

Into an abyss we try not to speak about:

Humans design their own dreams and glory

But when they succumb to the angel of death,

Where are their dreams, where is the glory?

 

 

 

The Mannequin

(Pantoum)

 

I thought the mannequin

Was throwing me a kiss

From its white pouting lips;

Virgin, that cannot speak or sin.

 

It was blowing me a kiss

After it had been stripped bare

Virgin, that cannot speak or sin;

Deadly still in its plastic skin.

 

After it had been stripped bare,

It was throwing me a kiss,

Deadly still in its plastic skin,

I fell in love with the mannequin.

 

 

 

My motherÕs Straw Hat

(To dear mum 1925-2014)

 

Decades seemed to burst

from each crevice in the attic,

where the straw hat lay

on a dusty rocking chair.

 

Steel cobwebs chained

to breezes swayed,

like mama's hair

threads of shiny silver grey.

 

I remember her wearing it,

to hide from the sun;

now in permanent shade,

never to be worn again.

 

It's of sentimental value,

but who will care?

When I'm gone someone

will stuff it in a garbage bag.

 

And winds will howl

through fissured walls

like lone wolves,

that vanish in cotton mists.

 

 

 

Zaren the Vegetable and Fruit Vendour

 

It was summer when Zaren*, the vegetable fruit vendor, hollered

At the top of his strident voice and the sunbathing lizards

Within the sun-scorched rocky vale ran into their obscure homes.

The women from the colourful houses thronged onto the street,

Queuing near his green horse driven cart, the large wheels

Rumbling on the pebbled slabs of the quiet fishing village.

I often accompanied my mother and for the white stallion, Polly

Bought a single red apple I would offer to her dripping mouth;

Each time when she recognized me, she gently nudged my hand.

The vegetable and fruit vendour was an old man in a white torn shirt,

He wore a straw hat and a piece of rope for a belt; his son had died

On his sleeves he always wore a black band as a sign of mourning.

The choice of vegetables and fruit were few but always fresh

Every morning the cart wheels could be heard grinding painfully

Up the hill, Polly pulled the cart right up the street then stopped:

ZarenÕs voice shrieked out the names of the vegetables most fresh,

Then the fruits, then told the same story about his long lost son

Who departed this earth after battling two years with Cancer.

It was always the same, until one day Zaren did not turn up,

The village waited in vain for his early shrieking wake-up call.

It was said he had passed away while dozing under a carob tree;

Polly was found standing ready with harness and a full loaded cart

Bending over the vegetable fruit vendor who slept for the last time. 

 

*Zaren is a shortened Maltese name derived from Nazzareno, meaning Nazarene

 

 

 

Forbidden Love

 

When they made love the first time

He never thought sheÕd walk away;

In his mind it was: until death do us apart.

When she wiped his sperm from her hand

It was the most intimate thing;

And when he helped her undress

All her secrets were laid bare:

Her smooth white skin,

The smell of Anais Anais.

Her caress was a heart stopper

Their sighs, they could never stifle,

No wall was thick enough to smother.

That summer he lived through a dream,

Her light brown hair flowing over naked shoulders

Partly shading her perfect round breasts:

Her passionate kisses, soft, endlessly long

Sucked his heart his very soul;

Never again has he made love like that.

Each time it was like a first time

The experience was divine.

They were both young, thought theyÕd never part

There was like a certainty in their hearts;

Their love had come like in a fairy tale

During the college literary evening;

At the reception when their eyes met, 

It was like they were the only two remaining

Amid a chaotic world.

Nothing could go wrong, their love was sealed.

As the years passed, they fell apart,

She left him to find another;

So did he move on from days of innocence.

Perhaps what they had was too close to a dream

Immature, afraid, they ran from each other.

 

 

Our Maid Claire

 

Her long smooth legs were to die for.

When she came home, she always sat on the sofa

Crossed her legs and sipped her lemonade.

August then became even more of a sizzler:

As her tongue licked her sensuous lips

I imagined her every body language move

To be telling me silent sweet nothings;

And the rest of the world around didnÕt exist.

In contrast to her worn out hands and nails

I imagined her bare elegant thighs

In lacy black lingerie on our first wedding night.

Each time my thoughts made me drool,

She seemed to notice my lustful stare

And in exchange she crossed her legs again

Slowly, so I could define the details in between;

Stark naked like my soul, I felt my heart was laid bare.

Every week until she came, I dreamt about her in my sleep

As often as I could closing my eyes to imagine

And each time she was unmistakably there,

Voluptuous as ever, looking straight into my eyes.

Then one day my dreams became reality:

Claire came early as it was shopping day for mum.

I was in my bath gown still shaving before breakfast;

There was a knock on my door - it was her.

She came in and asked me for a cigarette, then a light;

Next, she was in my arms on the longest kissing quest

Our tongues needed not search for words;

As my hands explored her body, we fell back into reality.

Claire was supposed to be married within two months

We thought our love for each other was only lust:

I was a dreamer and she was young, both na•ve

Building our castles in the air aspiring for a miracle.

As we slipped out of each otherÕs arms we learned,

We lived in an unforgiving world that discriminates

Between race and class. Claire was just our maid.

 

 

 

Platonic Love

 

Beautiful as a Greek statue,

Her jet-black hair hung in satin long curls

Eyes beaming wide like a black onyx.

Only her voice spoilt the synchronization

Of this artistic creation:

It was coarse, masculine.

 

Married but na•ve,

She was a virgin in more ways than one.

Never had a proper orgasm,

Simulated in a forced effort to express

Pleasure merely from a sense of duty.

 

She was stuck in stagnant boredom,

Often reflected in her nail biting habit,

As she watched with dreamy eyes

A colourless world go by

Beneath her confined balcony.

It was at times like this, their eyes met,

Fleetingly, in one single passionate glance

That often took their breath away.

 

That was all there was to their love affair.

It was enough; their eyes said everything

From poetry to pornography.

When she parted her lips, he parted his

And their tongues spoke in flicks

Triggering silent conversation.

 

Their love was condemned to make-belief,

Turning their heads away

When their eyes were about to speak;

When their smiles almost risked

Their hands waving kisses,

And their sighs were about to become

Too loud and clear to hide.

This love was different from many others,

A love so perfect, it could not survive.

 

 

From Real Life Stories and Legends

 

Paul the Meticulous Fisherman

 

Pawlu is-Sajjied, as he was nicknamed was a quiet lad.

Every Sunday morning he would clad in a beige suit and tie,

shine his shoes with spit, like soldiers in the army.

He was neat, in fact his other nickname, Pawlu l-Fitt.

Meticulous in his work, he considered life was ridiculous.

His walk was a rhythmic sway of self confidence

stopping to observe the weather like all good fishermen.

It only seems like yesterday,

Pawlu was shouting himself hoarse: Lampuki friski, hajjin hajjin;  

no one realized he was in deep crisis, deeper than the sea

from where he caught us fresh fish every day.

His luzzu, Santa Maria was berthed at Spinola Bay,

now itÕs gone just like him leaving an empty space

with only a lonely buoy to mark its place.

Pawlu no longer shouts, Friski, hajjin hajjin:

and the mornings are drear without his yellow smile.

When my dog ran out into the street last year

Pawlu gave chase and brought him back safe.

The Santa Maria was red, black and yellow,

painted in honour of St. Julian the village Belgian saint.

It would chug out from the bay, sometimes moon rising

every evening for summery decades, as many as I can recollect,

rippling through the reflected white light of a dimming sunset.

Then, he would whistle an unknown tune

until his silhouette became one with dusk.

He lived with his old widowed mother, Giuzeppa;

everyone knew she dotted on him, her only son.

One day she came back from early morning mass

and found him hanging from the neck.

The rope was tied by a fishermanÕs knot from the stairsÕ railings.

The doctor came first, then Dun Karm, the Parish priest.

Pawlu left us suddenly without a warning sign;

now, he is only a ghostly memory

as the moon rises on an empty quiet bay.

 

Pawlu is-sajjied il fitt (Paul the meticulous fisherman)

Pawlu il-fitt (Paul the meticulous man)

Luzzu (traditional colourful Maltese fishing boat)

Luzzu, Santa Maria (the boat is named St. Mary)

Lampuki friski, hajjin, hajjin. (Fresh Dolphin fish, alive alive)

Friski, hajjin hajjin. (Fresh, alive alive)

Dun Karm (Fr. Charles)

 

 

© Raymond Fenech Malta